05/10/2012 3:43PM

Belmont: Hardened Wildcat prepping for Woody Stephens

Barbara D. Livingston
Hardened Wildcat ran third to Trinniberg in the Bay Shore.

ELMONT, N.Y. – While Saturday’s Grade 2, $200,000 Peter Pan Stakes could serve as a potential stepping-stone to the Belmont Stakes, the $85,000 You and I Stakes run earlier on the card could produce a starter or two for the Woody Stephens Stakes on the Belmont undercard.

Only five horses entered in the You and I, including Hardened Wildcat winner of the Fred “Cappy” Capossela Stakes in March, and Currency Swap, winner of last year’s Grade 1 Hopeful at Saratoga.

Hardened Wildcat had a three-race winning streak snapped when he ran second to Trinniberg in the Grade 2 Bay Shore Stakes at Aqueduct on April 7. He is a late-running sprinter, who trainer Chad Brown feels could be somewhat compromised in a five-horse field.

“With a horse like Hardened Wildcat who prefers a pace to run at, it’s normally not a great thing to have a short field for a horse like that,” Brown said. “I’m not going to try and take him out of his game, I’m going to let him run his race. It’s a prep for the Woody Stephens for us, so I’m going to go ahead and run him and hopefully he’ll get the job done.”

Despite the three-length loss in the Bay Shore, Brown felt Hardened Wildcat ran a good race behind a loose-on-the-lead Trinniberg.

“I think if he would have gotten softened up at all we would have run right by him,” Brown said.

Junior Alvarado rides Hardened Wildcat from post 3.

Currency Swap is winless in two starts this year, having finished second to Gemologist in a one-mile allowance race before finishing 11th of 14 as the favorite in the Illinois Derby, his first start around two turns.

“He had a really bad trip. He got clobbered in the first turn then was rank and basically hit the wall,” said trainer Terri Pompay. “The jury’s still out whether he the hit wall because of pedigree or hit the wall because he used himself up. Let’s regroup, get back to seven-eighths, maybe our next stop will be the Woody Stephens.”

Currency Swap shows a sharp half-mile work in 46.80 seconds for this spot. He will break from post 5 under Rajiv Maragh.

Others entered include Brian, Phil Dancer, and Tightend Touchdown.

◗ Through Thursday, the 10th day of the meet, there have been 22 races scheduled for the turf that had to be moved to the dirt. Last year, only 30 races had to be moved from the turf to the dirt the entire meet.